"some music was meant to stay underground..."

Swallow The Sun - "Songs From The North I, II & III" (CD)

Swallow The Sun - "Songs From The North I, II & III" CD cover image

"Songs From The North I, II & III" track listing:

"I"
1. With You Came the Whole of the World's Tears
2. 10 Silver Bullets
3. Rooms and Shadows
4. Heartstrings Shattering
5. Silhouettes
6. The Memory of Light
7. Lost & Catatonic
8. From Happiness to Dust

"II"
1. The Womb of Winter
2. The Heart of a Cold White Land
3. Away
4. Pray for the Winds to Come
5. Songs from the North
6. 66°50´N,28°40´E
7. Autumn Fire
8. Before the Summer Dies

"III"
1. The Gathering of Black Moths
2. 7 Hours Late
3. Empires of Loneliness
4. Abandoned by the Light
5. The Clouds Prepare for Battle

Reviewed by on December 30, 2015

"...on the whole 'Songs From The North' is more than worth the price of admission and sees a band firing on all cylinders for a staggering length of time."

Hopefully you didn't come into “Songs Of The North” expecting to have a good time, as Swallow The Sun offers up almost three hours of depressing and gloomy death/doom that should be kept far away from anyone with a suicidal streak. Beating out Soilwork's double album, the triple threat “Songs From The North” takes the notion of “gloom, beauty, and despair” and expresses those ideals musically across three separate discs ranging from 42 to 59 minutes in length.

The first disc is most like previous album “Emerald Forest and the Black Bird,” albeit with some changes to the formula. On this disc, “10 Silver Bullets” is a pretty unexpected sound from Swallow The Sun, focused on heavy bass lines and adding a bit of groove in with the melancholic metal. “Rooms and Shadows” on the other hand opens with an intriguing noir feel, with acoustic strumming working alongside piano and heavier sounds. Disc 1 then ends with the journey “From Happiness To Dust,” featuring a variety of style changes where plenty of non-metal influences pop up before melancholy strings herald the second disc.

Part 2 of the trilogy is more introspective and atmospheric, and while there's some guitar and symphonic elements, this one is focused on the calmer parts with entirely clean singing. “Womb Of Winter” for instance is primarily piano driven, while “Heart of a Cold White Land” has a stellar mixing of acoustic and electric together in a way that's easily identifiable as Swallow The Sun. The oddly titled “66°50´N,28°40´E” is an interesting little side trek that manages to pack a whole lot of emotion in through instruments alone as the vocals are ditched entirely.

The ending third disc brings out massive 10 and 12 minute songs that see the return of harsh vocals and distorted guitars. While the first and second discs have some changes in the formula, part 3 is slow moving funeral doom through and through, and probably the most “metal” of all three offerings. If you dig funeral doom you'll love this one, although there's not much to differentiate the individual songs.

Swallow The Sun went past the one-two punch to release a three chapter journey covering every aspect of the band's gloomy sound, offering a ton of material to work through all in one bundle. There's plenty here that will keep fans of the previous album interested, as well as those who prefer extreme metal that moves at a glacial pace. While there is a good deal of repetition on the second and third discs, on the whole “Songs From The North” is more than worth the price of admission and sees a band firing on all cylinders for a staggering length of time.

Highs: It's everything you love about Swallow The Sun times three.

Lows: Parts 2 and 3 don't have enough changes in formula to fully listen through in all one sitting.

Bottom line: Three albums from Swallow The Sun all in one package? Yes, please!

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)